Harry Bryan

Boatbuilder & Designer, Bryan Boatbuilding

Harry Bryan Harry Bryan was born in 1945 and spent the summers of his childhood sailing, rowing, and fooling around in low-powered outboard boats on the Massachusetts shore. His parents’ annual attempts at getting him a formal education were largely a waste of their resources, according to Harry.

His first significant boatbuilding project was an 8' hydroplane built in the bedroom—a space that, viewed today, mystifies him as to how that boat fit in such a small space. He recalls that his dad helped him remove the window in preparation for the project’s launching.

Before enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard, Harry worked for Fairhaven Marine repairing a wooden dragger, then at Concordia Co. building a custom powerboat.

He was married in 1970, then moved to New Brunswick, Canada, and set up the shop where he has built boats of all kinds, from 6’ to 36’. Forty years later, he says he is still trying to educate himself in the mysteries of boatbuilding—and has tried to pass on some of what he’s learned to students at the WoodenBoat School, where he has taught since 1984.

Videos

Title
Harry Bryan’s Foot-Powered Wood Splitter: If you're heating with wood, have a sledge-hammer you can press into service, and can dig up one of those long, snake-li...
Bit Brace Essentials, Part 2 – Techniques & Uses: We return to Harry Bryan's shop to learn the essential techniques and uses of the bit brace....
Ingenuity at Work & Play, with Harry Bryan: Harry Bryan takes us off-the-grid again with his ingenuity in both work and play....
Bit Brace Essentials, Part 1 – Knowing What To Look For: Join Harry Bryan as he walks us through bit braces and knowing what to look for.  ...
Cool Shop Tips #4, Harry Bryan’s Sawhorse Clamp: Forget the power miter saw - this original sawhorse clamp design by Harry takes a sawhorse and clamp to create a handy t...
Handsaws for Boatbuilding, with Harry Bryan: When it comes to handsaws, whether you're working with plywood or natural stock, Harry Bryan knows which saw is the be...
Slowing Down, The Schmee of a Successful Man: Slowing down might get you deeper: Harry Bryan reflects on a hand-made life. The word "schmee" is an OCH-ism used to de...
The Closest Thing to Magic, Of Boats and Boathouses: When Harry Bryan designed and built the little sloop KATIE, he had no idea the magic she would keep bringing to him and...
Kids in the Shop, a Work Bench & Set of Tools: When Harry Bryan built a tool bench for his grandchildren, it got us to thinking that maybe there's a workshop in Passam...
Harry Bryan’s THISTLE, A Pedal-Powered Fin Boat: Ever wish you could swim through the water with a fish's power and quiet gracefulness? Harry Bryan's THISTLE, a pedal-po...
Harry Bryan’s Marine Railway: Fall Haul-Out: It's fall and the north wind is making up in earnest. Time for Harry Bryan to haul his 20' pocket cruiser KATIE on his...
How To Use A Handsaw, Square & Bevel Crosscuts: In an era of loud, whirring machines, Harry takes us back to the simplicity and precision of the crosscut saw as he show...
Plane Talk & Spokeshaves – Boat Building Hand Tools: Boat building hand tools expert, OCH Guide and well known traditional tool expert, Harry Bryan, takes us through his col...
Ladybug Wheelbarrow Boat: Seeing Harry Bryan's wheelbarrow boat in action across a couple of hundred yards of rock ledge and clam flats on the way...
Smooth Planes – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly with Harry Bryan: Ever wondered what all those moving parts in your hand plane were for? Well Harry takes a couple of smooth planes apart...
Blade Sharpening Part 3 – Sharpening Planer Blades: Sharpening planer blades on a big machine can be especially daunting. And yet Harry takes it on with aplomb, as he shows...
Essential Boat Building Tools – Clamps: A few helpful hints on getting the right clamps for your boat building shop from a master builder of wooden boats....
Sharpening Plane Blades, Part 2 – with Harry Bryan: A mid-winter follow-up journey over the border to Canada gives us the opportunity to get a lesson from master boatbuilde...
Versa Vise Review, with Harry Bryan: When we first saw this video, we called to order two of these clever little versa vises immediately. And they haven't le...
Wood Storage For Boat Building – Cedar & Oak – with Harry Bryan: In Part I of our wood storage for boat building series, Harry Bryan shows us how he stores cedar and oak, two of his fav...
Boat Building Hand Tools, The Basic Tool Kit – with Harry Bryan: Ignoring many of the tools now flooding the marketplace, Harry Bryan shows us the basic boat building tools you will nee...
Sharpening Plane Blades, Part 1 – with Harry Bryan: A mid-winter journey over the border to Canada gives us the opportunity to get a lesson on sharpening plane blades from...

 

Guide Posts

Title
Am I A Luddite?: Am I A Luddite? Some Thoughts On Where We Are And Where We’re Going On a recent trip across the country by train, I fe...
My Favorite Dinghy – The Nutshell Pram, by Harry Bryan: Right away I must say that I don’t like designating any person or thing as “the best”. It is such a bummer for all...
Building a Quarter-sized Skiff; A Post by OCH Guide Harry Bryan: What a pleasant surprise to get this post from Harry! From the following, you can practice boatbuilding without needing...
DIY Vise Block; A Useful Gizmo For Clamping: This DIY vise block allows holding pieces that have non-parallel faces, but is not of my own design.  I am quite sure...
Mixing and Using Shellac and Bedding Compound:  The use of specific types of paint, sealants, and adhesives in our shop is ever changing—based on what has worked, a...
My Thoughts on Power Tools: Last winter as we completed the planking of a 26’ lap-strake powerboat, I was offered the use of a random orbit sander...
Good Reads: Recommendations by Harry Bryan: OffCenterHarbor.com asked our guides to share their favorite books that should be in every boater’s library… I can't...
A Tale of Two Block Planes: Harry Bryan Reviews the Stanley 12-960 Low Angle Block Plane: Last December I bought a Stanley 12-960 low-angle block plane from a local hardware store.  There were three choices...
Why I am a Boatbuilder (and Not a Doctor), by Harry Bryan: The purpose of this short autobiographical essay, that I wrote for a local high school job fair, is to offer encouragem...
Rattail Reamers You Can Make Yourself. Also, a Neat Chainsaw Sharpener—by Harry Bryan:  A RATTAIL FILE MADE INTO A HANDY REAMER A rattail file is round, fairly coarse, and tapered at one end.  A 3/8” rat...
Learning from Experience; My Biggest Disaster and What it Taught Me.: A small boat shop proprietor must be in charge of production as well as sales and customer relations. There is no reason...
How Much Does My Boat Weigh? Weighing Your Boat with a Bathroom Scale:  Every summer for more than 25 years I have spent a week or more teaching at the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin.  I li...
In My Shop: The Rambler 18 Outboard Boat: On our shop floor is a nearly completed 18’ Rambler 18 outboard boat. It represents a step that I have wanted to take...
The Influence of Uncle Bill Barker: William H. Barker, thanks for my life with boats... When asked to give some thought to someone who was a big influence o...
The Three Boats I Lust After (and Why): I must protest.  I have spent some time thinking about the title of this submission and feel that it has been my good f...